The Toronto Maple Leafs' dealing the supposedly untradeable David Clarkson to Columbus for Nathan Horton stunned the hockey world. It's sparked considerable buzz over what other surprises Leafs GM Dave Nonis has in store leading up to the March 2 trade deadline.
David Staples of the Edmonton Journal notes a rumor making the rounds linked the Oilers to Leafs center Tyler Bozak. Staples doubts the Oilers would take on the 28-year-old Bozak's $4.2-million annual cap hit without sending an expensive contract back to the Leafs. There's also the little matter of Bozak's modified no-trade clause.
TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul could be on the Washington Capitals radar. CSN Washington.com's Chuck Gormley suggests players like Dallas' Erik Cole or Vernon Fiddler might interest the Caps but made no mention of Lupul.
Prior to the Clarkson deal, there was speculation tying Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Detroit Red Wings. On Feb. 14, Sportsnet's Damien Cox floated the notion of the “defense-needy” Wings perhaps looking at the 28-year-old Leafs captain after showing some interest in Cody Franson prior to his trade to Nashville.
Cox's colleague Elliotte Friedman followed up by suggesting the Leafs and Wings swap toxic contracts with Phaneuf getting shipped to Detroit and center Stephen Weiss and blueliner Jakub Kindl heading to Toronto. Following the Clarkson deal, TSN's Darren Dreger said he wouldn't be surprised if the Wings “circled back” to Phaneuf near Monday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
Phaneuf to the Wings, Bozak to the Oilers and Lupul to the Capitals sound far-fetched, but then so did the idea of Clarkson being swapped for Horton. That deal ensures the Leafs keep fans and pundits guessing right up to the deadline.
BRUINS PURSUING DEPTH AT DEADLINE
The Boston Bruins are among the teams expected to acquire depth leading up to the trade deadline.
His proposed trade targets include Arizona's Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle, Buffalo's Chris Stewart, Edmonton's Jordan Eberle and Jeff Petry, Dallas' Erik Cole, New Jersey's Marek Zidlicky and Michael Ryder, Calgary's Curtis Glencross and Toronto's Joffrey Lupul.
Of these, the Bruins' best options could be Stewart, Cole and Zidlicky. The Bruins have done a slow dance with the Sabres over the 27-year-old Stewart since November. The 36-year-old Cole is on pace for 20 goals and 40 points plus his physical style could fit well in Boston. If Zidlicky is willing to waive his no-trade clause he could be a good addition. The asking price on these players should be at least a draft pick and/or a prospect.
The increased attention on Vermette and Glencross from other clubs could price them out of the Bruins' range. The Oilers aren't trading Eberle, and the cap-strapped Bruins probably have no interest in the injury-plagued Lupul and his $5.25-million annual cap hit over the next three seasons.
ARIZONA WEIGHING VERMETTE'S DEADLINE DESTINATION
As the NHL trade deadline approaches there's growing speculation over where Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette could end up.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun believes the Chicago Blackhawks' reported interest in the 32-year-old Vermette could drive up his trade value. LeBrun also claims the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets are believed keeping tabs on Vermette, and claims the Boston Bruins could be looking at the center as a possible replacement for the sidelined David Krejci.
Teams pursuing Vermette could also be offered defenseman Zbynek Michalek in a package deal. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports the Coyotes were believed trying to move the 32-year-old Michalek in a separate deal, but a concussion has adversely affected his trade value.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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